Manatt Entertainment Partner Speaks to Law360 on Potential Handling of Copyright Terminations

Manatt Entertainment Partner Speaks to Law360 on Potential Handling of Copyright Terminations

"Copyright Termination for '70s Hits Won't Spark Lawsuit Fever"
Law360

November 26, 2012 - Manatt's Eric Custer, a partner in the firm's Entertainment Practice, spoke to Law360 on how the industry is likely to handle copyright terminations in 2013.

Law360 reports that revisions to the Copyright Act that took effect in 1978 will allow musicians who recorded hit songs in the late 1970s to reclaim ownership of their work starting in January. The 1978 provision gave authors of new works the ability to terminate the assignment of rights to entertainment companies after 35 years. As a result, termination rights will become available on January 1, 2013, for any sound recording for which the rights were assigned on January 1, 1978, and will kick in for other works throughout the year. Attorneys told the publication that record labels are expected to fight to retain control, but a flood of litigation in 2013 is unlikely.

Rather than taking the fight to court, it is far more likely that a copyright termination notice from an artist will serve as a jumping-off point for negotiations with the label on a new contract, said Custer.

"New deals will be made, and it won't lead to litigation unless the artist really can't stand their label or really wants to take control of their work," he said. "There will be some examples where people want to prove a point, but whether the case will proceed to a resolution on the legal issues is hard to say."

Even in cases where a lawsuit is filed, it may be more advantageous to both the artist and the label to negotiate a new deal rather than pursue the case to a resolution, Custer said.

"Presumably there will be some splashy case filed in 2013, but how quickly it will move and how strongly they'll want to litigate is hard to say," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if there's a settlement for improved deal terms and the parties are not prepared to fight to the ends of the earth."

Read the article here.

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